Finding out about your ancestry is fun and can be informative too. You may well learn things about your family which confirm oft-repeated rumours, discover long-lost relations and make new friends as part of your search.
At least two sites, Ancestry and 23andme, offer DNA testing of one sort or another as well as genetic profiling. Having a full genetic profile serves much more than simply telling you that you’re related to someone, however. It may well also indicate whether you are at higher risk of any disease than others in the population and offer clues to your origins.
DNA testing has shown that just one genetic mutation carried by the founder of a population can be replicated down the generations. A high incidence rate of an otherwise rare medical condition within a small area can pinpoint one particular common ancestor. Genetic and ethnic mix profiling will allow you to find out whether you carry, or are at risk of passing on, any genetic issues. As a result, you will be able to seek specialist opinion on any medical issues brought up by the profiling.
Most people undertake genealogical research from a purely inquisitive point of view: they want to know more about their ancestors, who married whom, what happened when someone emigrated or whether they are related to anyone famous. You may know of relatives who died in battle or the Holocaust; others could perhaps be looking to find out what happened to a relative who disappeared without a trace. You may be able to swap information with others which may not seem relevant or helpful at the time but slots into their search somewhere later on. If you are adopted, genealogy and DNA mapping may sometimes be the only way you have of learning more about your birth family. Even something as simple as investigating the origin of your surname can be answered by taking out a subscription to a genealogy site.
Ancestry and 23andme can answer both the inquisitive questions and the genetic ones. Paid-for services such as these sites offer can turn out to be good value for money thanks to the many answers they provide. Whatever brought you to genealogy, your questions are likely to be answered, along with many more you didn’t know you had. The services offered by the two companies are slightly different, and it is worth reading up on both sites before committing to joining one or the other. Both are well established sites and offer a wealth of information alongside the DNA testing options. A search for the Ancestry name quickly brings up the strapline that they are the UK’s largest family history site. 23andme, meanwhile, bills itself as a genetic testing service first and foremost. The site you choose to join will depend on what you are hoping to find out. One site may be better at one stage of your search, while the other may offer more details at another, so see here for more details.